Fire alarms save lives by allowing people time to escape in the event of a fire.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 provides that all premises in England and Wales used for non-domestic purposes, with some exceptions, have an appropriate fire detection system so that occupants can be adequately warned should a fire break out. There are various fire alarm services that your business may need, from installation to fire alarm maintenance and servicing. Let’s take a look at the responsibilities that matter.
What premises need a fire alarm?
Not all premises need a fire alarm. If you do not store high-risk substances such as chemicals, or where a developing fire would be clearly seen and it would be easy to alert occupants without an alarm, then it is not necessary to have one installed.
For the latter, these types of premises would typically be those that are small with a simple layout, such as open-plan and single storey.
Any premises where high-risk activities are carried out, such as cooking in a restaurant, or where there are vulnerable occupants, such as a care home, should definitely have a fire alarm installed. Your fire risk assessment should dictate whether you need a fire alarm.
What type of fire alarm do I need?
There are three core types of fire alarms, these being conventional, addressable and wireless. Let’s take a look at each type in more detail.
Conventional fire alarms
A conventional fire alarm system is usually only suitable for lower-risk environments or smaller premises.
When a fire is detected, the alarm panel displays the location of the activated heat or smoke detector or manual call point by lighting an LED. This is very basic information working on broad zones, leaving the appointed fire safety manager to search the given zone to locate the fire or the activated device.
Because this adds an element of “seek and search”, which obviously adds to the time needed to raise the alarm, conventional fire alarms are not suited to larger premises.
Addressable fire alarms
An addressable fire alarm will tell you precisely where the alert for heat or smoke has come from on the premises. The name ‘addressable’ comes from the fact that each sensor device connected to the alarm panel has its own unique electronic address.
This is a more intelligent system and most suitable for larger or higher risk environments including hospitals, schools and care homes.
Wireless fire alarms
Wireless fire alarms work in a similar way to addressable fire alarms, they just don’t have the wires. They work on a secure wireless connection between the fire alarm panel and individual sensors.
Any premises where an addressable system is best suited, but where cabling is not appropriate, such as historic or listed buildings and places of worship, will benefit from a wireless fire alarm.
What should I look for in a fire alarm installer?
Because there is a complex system of grades associated with how a fire alarm system should be made, and an equally complex system of categories that define which areas of a building it can cover, it is vital that you engage an accredited, experienced expert when it comes to fire alarm installation.
Questions to ask of a prospective installer could be:
- Are they British Standards BS 5839 and BAFE approved?
- Do they provide an all-parts warranty?
- Is round the clock support offered?
- Do they offer a servicing and maintenance contract?
What about fire alarm maintenance and servicing?
Fire alarm maintenance and servicing are vital to ensure your alarm is ready to do its job should the need arise. The Fire Safety Order requires that every effort is made to ensure a fire alarm system is maintained in good working order and that it is regularly tested by a competent person. In addition, fire alarm servicing is a legal requirement for employers under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. It is also an important weapon in the fight against false alarms.
The required frequency of fire alarm servicing is explored in more detail in our article, Fire Alarm Service: Recommended Frequency
Professional fire alarm services from IQ Fire Solutions
IQ Fire Solutions is British Standards qualified and has in-depth experience across all aspects of fire safety.
We offer a range of professional fire alarm services, including installation and fire alarm maintenance. Our fire alarm installation service includes a free kitchen fire blanket and extinguisher and is backed by 24/7 support and a parts warranty.
To learn more about our fire alarm services you are welcome to call us on 020 8500 9885.